Wed, Sep 05, 2018 - Page 9 News List

Fostering deeper security collaboration among EU’s ‘big three’

By Volker Perthes

In the wake of Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal, the “big three” — together with the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy — would prove integral to saving it, and to developing more wide-ranging solutions for dealing with Iran.

However, the “big three” have an important role to play in other areas, too, including the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, the ongoing Israel-Palestine dispute, instability in North Africa and maritime security in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

Depending on the issue, other relevant EU member states — such as Italy, Poland or Spain — would have to join the “big three” in developing policies or negotiating agreements. Initiatives by the “big three” should always be coordinated with the EU’s high representative, to take full advantage of the bloc’s legitimacy and resources.

More frequent and visible strategic coordination among the “big three” would support the ability of the EU and the UK to reap the benefits of mutual cooperation. It might also serve as a foundation for a pragmatic Brexit agreement that maintains close cooperation between the UK and the EU on foreign and security policy.

Whether the EU likes it or not, a credible joint initiative by France, Germany and the UK would have a greater effect on the likes of Iran, Russia, China or even the US than a common EU position emanating from a debate in the EU Political and Security Committee.

Fostering deeper collaboration among the “big three,” of the kind that has been seen recently, must remain at the top of the EU’s foreign-policy agenda, before and after Brexit.

That France, Germany and the UK are all members of the UN Security Council for 2019-2020 — France and the UK as permanent members and Germany as an elected member — adds heft to cooperative action among them. Moreover, close collaboration within the Security Council could help to structure EU-UK foreign-policy coordination in the immediate post-Brexit transition period.

Volker Perthes is chairman and director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin.

Copyright: Project Syndicate

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